Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Do you have people asking for off-book cash payment to avoid penalty rates?

Mark Fletcher
January 27th, 2014 · 5 Comments

A newsagent told me last week that for the first time they are planning on paying two staff members off-book, with no record of their employment. They employees asked to be paid the regular award week-day per hour amount including the equivalent of super but for Saturdays and Sundays – responding to the prospect of having their hours cut by the owners who would work themselves to save money.

I am sure this story is not unique: that there are many employees keen for what are usually penalty rate hours – like today – who would happily work for regular pay given the prospect is regular pay or nothing.

Have current and prospective employees asked you to work off-book?


Category: Newsagency management

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Carol // Jan 27, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    Wouldn’t be that stupid. It can all come back and give you a big bite on the bum if things go sour. I do think we should have an award that maybe pays a bit more per hour but is the same on Saturdays and Sundays.


  • 2 rick // Jan 27, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    one question, workers comp?


  • 3 Jarryd Moore // Jan 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    Aside from being unethical, its simply not worth the risk to anyone.

    The employee risks being found out by the ATO for not declaring income.

    The employer risks even more by submitting false information to the ATO, not collecting PAYG tax, underpaying an employee, underpaying workers compensation premiums and not paying super.

    That said, I am of the belief that Sunday penalty rates are too high. Double time is an overstated rate relative to the penalty of weekend work. Before we moved to the modern award the Sunday rate in many states was 1.5x. The process put in place for of award modernisation meant that the highest penalty rate from any state award would be taken to form the new award. What resulted was an award with all the most beneficial features for employees but without any of the concessions that would naturally offset some of the more generous provisions.

    I have no issue with a 1.5x rate for Sunday. I believe penalty rates have both important social and economic functions. A 2x rate, however, is for most small retail businesses going to be either break even, unprofitable or result in a profit so minor that it simply isn’t worth opening.


  • 4 h // Jan 28, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    We would not even think of doing this. However, I can name quite a few main street food businesses that get away with all kinds of dodgy staffing, they never seem to be investigated (the youngsters being taken advantage of tell me their stories when they come in looking for work here).This is why I think we should have GST on all sales including food, at least the Government would collect a bit more tax out of these food businessess.


  • 5 Gregg // Jan 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    h, agree, we have a local takeaway/dine in near us and is in a prime location and employs a large number of juniors over the holiday period and you can bet none go through the books. The part that really annoys me is that most of these kids do the cooking and is usually crap yet as far as I am aware kids under 16 are not to be used where there is hot food preparation/cooking. I would hate to see one of these kids injured but it force a shonky to actually do the right thing.


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